Listening to our pets in more difficult times.

Loving owners want so much to know when their pets may be in pain.

Our dear Pharaoh (born June, 2003) is getting very weak in his rear hip joints and Jean and I are very sensitive to understanding whether or not he is in pain. Any loving owner of a cat or a dog would be the same; and it doesn’t stop with our cats and dogs.

Care 2 Healthy Living recently had an article on just this subject: Trying to know when our pets are in pain.

Here it is shared with you good, caring people.

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6 Ways Your Pet Tells You They’re In Pain

1390100-largeBy: Lisa Spector September 11, 2016

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. My Lab, Sanchez, is 13-years-old. I still sometimes have a hard time identifying the difference between a behavior problem and a physical ailment. Our dogs are so adaptable and want to please us so much, it’s sometimes challenging to detect their pain.

These often subtle signs will help you determine when your pet may be showing signs of pain. Some require a veterinary visit, but other times there are simple things you can do to help. When Sanchez had a slipped neck disc at age 9, I thought he was in so much pain that he’d never recover. A few acupuncture sessions later, and he turned into a puppy!

1. Mouth Fluttering

It wasn’t until I made a video with Sanchez in it that I noticed he was making all sorts of mouth movements. (He starts the mouth movement at :28 seconds.) I knew he wasn’t stressed and his lip licking was not a calming signal. It sparked enough curiosity that I had my vet look at this mouth. Sure enough, he needed his molars pulled. As hesitant as I was to have this operation on a 13-year-old dog, he came through it just fine and started acting much younger post-surgery. I didn’t realize he was in pain for months.

Little dog maltese refusing eating his food from a bowl in home
Little dog maltese refusing eating his food from a bowl in home

2.  Decreased Appetite

A change in desire to eat is not always a sign of illness. It sometimes can also be about mouth pain. If you give Fido or Fluffy hard food, try some soft food and see if they want to eat. Experiment with different textures. Decreased appetite is a good reason to visit your vet.

sanchezupcar-443x3323. Reluctance to Get In The Car

While this might happen throughout a cat’s entire life, dogs may show hesitancy getting in a car when it causes them pain to jump up (or down). Try using a ramp so that they can easily get in and out without adding any pressure to their joints.

thinkstockphotos-589434262-405x4434. Difficulty Standing Up

Older pets tend to sleep a lot and they can be slow at getting up. Give them plenty of time to stretch as they know how to listen to their own bodies. But, if Fido or Fluffy is hesitant to stand up, they may be feeling pain. Personally with Sanchez, this is one of the areas where it’s hard to tell the difference between behavior and pain. But, I can usually find out the answer quickly when I entice him with a yummy treat.

thinkstockphotos-530496846-443x2955. Decreased Activity and Engagement

When pets are in pain, they often want to be left alone. Watch for any signs of social behavior changes. Is Fido engaging with his dog buddies? Is Fluffy getting in more cat fights? Senior pets have a taxed nervous system in general and aren’t as curious as their puppy or kitty playmates. But notice if there has been any drastic change in their activity level. It may be a reason for a vet call.

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) also offers this downloadable chart that helps you determine when you’ll need to make a vet visit.

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That downloadable chart is a graphical version, as in a pdf, of this post. Nonetheless, IVAPM are to be congratulated on producing the chart and for highlighting the important indicators when trying to decide whether or not to take your loved pet to see a vet.

26 thoughts on “Listening to our pets in more difficult times.

  1. Although a topic sometimes we would like not to think of, it’s very important to talk about and it’s good to try to be prepared and know the signs so thanks for sharing!

  2. Ah. GSDs and hips. Been there 😦 Even Pippa who was probably older than Pharoah but was part husky suffered from rear end inability. The first time Pippa struggled we took him to out Spanish vet expecting to say goodbye but after NSAIDs and doxycyclin for tick disease he recovered as good as gold. Last year though, it wasn’t tick disease and we accepted it was time to say goodbye. I feel for you and Jeannie, and for beautiful Pharoah.

    1. Jeannie recently started Pharaoh on Rimadril (sp.?) and that has made a positive difference. What I find myself agonizing over is whether it will be clear when Pharaoh himself communicates that he is ready to go. How was it for Pippa and you?

      1. Rimadyl. A Cox 2 NSAID. We had fibricoxid and something else. Pippa lied down on the floor one day for 24 hours. Wouldn’t/couldn’t move 😦 Seemed like time. The vet said he could give him tablets for a few months, but … didn’t seem fair. I miss my big boy though.

      2. I was just speaking with Jean about this and she said that it will be clear when Pharaoh loses his will to carry on. I’m hearing that in your reply.

        The inevitability of death! The ultimate learning from our dogs. (Sorry, didn’t mean to come across as being morbid – very much in my mind at present in terms of an elderly close relative terminally ill back in the ‘old country’.)

  3. Don’t wait around for a vet to tell you that your dog is in pain. You live in a state with legal MJ plus hemp oil is legal in all 50 states. I give CBD oil to my BC X Aussie 12 year old dog. He could not get up and yelped in pain before I began giving him 0.7ml daily that I drizzle over his food., After second dose he could stand up without help. Now he walks and runs with fluid movements of all limbs. It is totally safe and doesn’t require expensive tests, The danger of Rimadyl and other meds in that class used to treat arthritis, is that these types of meds cause kidney damage and your pet will have a shortened life span. Hemp oil works like a charm with no side effects.

    1. Oh, there are so many times I could give my friends in this place a big hug, and this is one of those times! Just sitting down to a morning tea with Jean and will read out your reply shortly! Thank you!

  4. And as we discovered with our hounddog after the vet confirmed she had bone cancer in her jaw, some dogs are ‘stoic.’ She was that type of dog. And it was very hard to know ‘how’ much pain she was in. This really ramps up the confusion and uncertainty when it comes to making the horrible decision to end a creature’s life. Looking back on it now, I might have done it sooner than later. But in any case, there’s no changing the past. Now it’s draining sebaceous cysts in the Lab who is approaching 15 years of age. We don’t ‘have’ to do it, and the vet says they’ll come back eventually, but we do, and he does seem to feel better as a result. Judging from the amount of matter that comes out (and the horrid color at times), I would imagine the pressure cannot be good. And fyi on these cysts in older dogs (some breeds), my daughter says to try castor oil. So that’s our next step. Apparently it can be quite effective. Aloha, Paul.

  5. This article was great and highly informative. Thanks for posting it, Paul. A week ago we were very concerned about our Boston because she was throwing up and obviously under the weather. As it turns out, she just had a bit of a stomach virus. She is back to “being Maggie.” I am certain I will be referring to the helpful PDF chart.

      1. I wish we would have had some signs but unfortunately this was an out of the blue type thing. You are right Paul about being vigilant. I really appreciate the information that you impart on your site.

      2. But once again I must say that so often I am just the messenger. That doesn’t devalue in the slightest my appreciation for your kind words, along with many others.

  6. That is understandable Paul, no one want to see their animals in pain, and it is difficult at times to know how they are suffering.. I know you and Jean will be keeping an eye on Pharaoh’s hips.. Love and thoughts to you both x

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